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Permalink Microsoft, FUD, and Vaporware: Are They The Only Bad Guy Here?




First Declan picked it up on his blog, followed by Ed Brill and some others (I think Volker needs to start a Wiki for this incident). Unlike the Radicati Group, Microsft swifly removed an offending document from their website, one that was just published this week, that included the following factual misstatements:

"Notes/Domino R6 is the last planned release of the existing Notes architecture; IBM plans to reengineer it to run on top of DB2 and WebSphere. The change in database structure creates a significant migration effort for existing customers and creates a situation where the Notes/Domino direction is re-evaluated. Additionally, IBM has halted plans for long-awaited improvements to Notes/Domino, and users are getting conflicting timelines for their replacement strategy. These problems have been amplified by IBM's lack of direction for a cohesive coexistence and migration strategy. Accordingly, many organizations are expressing interest in migrating away from the moribund Notes/Domino platform, but they do not want to abandon their existing investment in applications built on the Notes architecture."


They were right to pull it before IBM or someone else filed a complaint with the
Federal Trade Commission, much like the one filed against it in Europe that they lost.

However, this brings us back to the age old discussion of Microsoft (and other companies to be fair) using fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), as well as the promises of vaporware, to knock out their competition.


I think we all agree that it stinks and that we hate it. Consider this quote from an e-mail I received from a senior vice-president at Oklahoma State University regarding
their scandal:

"Your observations about including an ethics component in training/education of software professionals are absolutely on target. This is not a small challenge. The ethics question extends beyond the software teams. I am equally concerned about the whole "vaporware" issue,  the release and sale of products not yet ready for prime time, etc. We end up with a ladder of training needs that reaches to the top in many cases."


Here was a man caught up right in the middle of a huge mess agreeing that the ethics of the software industry needs some shaping up (and yes I know this is a general statement and does not apply to us all. Imagine that Microsoft took a very, very basic application from the
Sandbox as an example for their book! Imagine taking a very bland generic sample which is much less complicated than most of us build as an example to show how "easy" it is to migrate?

I have a former client from my days at Lotus that is up in North Carolina. They were looking for an experienced Notes Developer to come in and manage two applications we had built for them. One was a Benefits Enrollment System that is way to complicated in its architecture to explain here, and the other was a web-based time entry system that was used by over 1,300 units in North America (and I venture to say that many of you have been inside one or more of these units, as have many Microsofties. However, this shop was being migrated to .Net as they followed a Microsoft DNA and had already switched to Outlook for mail (based on direction from the corporate level). But guess what? They walked away from .Net because they could not get it to do what they needed and they decided to go with WebSphere. As much as higher management wanted .Net, the "only applications that worked worth a hoot and did what they were supposed to do" (saving the corporation millions of dollars a year) were the two applications that we at Lotus Professional Services (Now IBM Software Services for Lotus) built for them. I don't seem to see that anywhere in the Microsoft "Press", but then again I do not see that story coming out of IBM either.

So what do we do about it? Are we at fault for not speaking out more forcefully to right the errors that are published by companies such as Microsoft? Do we become blinded by our loyalty to one product or another that we only see the negatives? Do we as software professionals have ethical obligations in making our decisions and recommendations as well? You bet we do, if you have any trust in the
SANS Institute. Their ethical standards, published on their web site, includes the following:

I will report on the illegal activities of myself and others without respect to the punishments involved. I will not tolerate those who lie, steal, or cheat as a means of success in IT.


Does Microsoft fall under this category? What about all the anecdotal stories we have heard about IBM Sales People telling customers that Notes and Domino are dead so they could sell WebSphere? Are any of us without some blame that Microsoft continues to get away with this
?



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